Friday, August 04, 2017

FDF Volume 4 Issue 376 - Aretha Franklin - Spirit in the Dark

Album – Spirit In The Dark
Artist – Aretha Franklin
Key Players – Aretha Franklin – vocals and piano.  There are many backing players and vocalists.  Check out the albums wiki page page for album specific details.
Produced By – Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin

Release Date – August 24, 1970

Overview – This was the nineteenth studio album released by Aretha Franklin.  It would peak at #25 on the US album charts.

FDF Comments (aka “The Songs”) – The album is 11 tracks long and runs just short of 40 minutes long.  “Don’t Play that Song” is the opening track.  In reading the liner notes Franklin was in a new and fresh mood as she had split with her husband (and manager).  She is in fine voice and seems very animated. “The Thrill is Gone (From Yesterdays Kiss)” is the same song that most would associate with B.B.King.  Aretha has just as much emotion vocally and you can almost see the tear glide down her face.  We are a little more uptempo on “Pullin’” and Franklin works a lot more with her support singers and the bass line keeps your toes bouncing and as the track moves it has the gospel/church fury of emotion. “You and Me” is a pretty ballad with some really wonderful harmonies. “Honest I Do” is Franklins take on the Jimmy Reed’s big hit.  Franklin sings both the lead and backing vocals on the track and her as Barry Beckett plays an exceptional piano/electric organ section.  “Spirit in the Dark” was released as a single from the album (peaking at #3 on the R+B charts) is a slow building track but the end is the payoff, “welcome to church” indeed, easily my favorite song on the record.  “When the Battle is Over” is a cover of Delaney and Bonnie (written by Dr.John) and it’s a driving track with Franklin in fine voice (shocker I know). “One Way Ticket” is a soulful tune with a lot of work being done by the backing vocalists.  They don’t carry the song, but they make it a bit more interesting. “Try Matty’s” is a fun song, and anyone of a certain age in the Boston area may remember that Kiss 108 Morning Man Matt Siegal used to play the intro often. “That’s All I Want From You” is another pretty song, that is mid-tempo flanked by a wonderful horn section.  “Oh No Not My Baby” is a cover of Carole King and was a hit for another R&B artist in the 60’s (Maxine Brown).  Franklin sounds wonderful on the track.  “Why I Sing The Blues” is the second B.B.King cover on the album and closes out the record perfectly.

Where are they now? – Aretha Franklin is still appearing for limited shows.  Her last album was her covering some “Diva” classics and was released in 2014.  It was also her 41st album.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting off? – It’s a great record that doesn’t have RESPECT on it, lets start there.  I mean that politely of course.  Her catalog is so expansive it’s a shame that she is only seemingly remember for 2-3 songs.  I could be wrong, but not a lot of my friends run around expounding on her excellence, or even her catalog.  She is an institution and hopefully she gets well enough to tour extensively, she is someone that I’d like to see live.  As far as this record, there were a LOT of support players and I didn’t realize so many tracks were cover tunes, but she made them all her own.

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